It is estimated that micronutrient deficiencies affect nearly 2 billion people worldwide (Hibberd, et al., 2017). Often when clients come to work with me they are focused on how much they are eating. We refer to how much or the quantity of intake as macronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fat, and in some circumstances, alcohol. They are what provide energy, or calories to our body to operate our various systems. When clients come to me focused on macronutrients, the first thing I do is start to break down their micronutrients. I want to know not just how much you are eating but WHAT you are eating. This will answer a few questions for me:
1. Is your body using those macronutrients correctly?
2. Are your hormones being supported to function optimally?
3. Are your energy levels optimized?
4. Is your body nourished to operate at 100% capacity.
Think of micronutrients as your amplifier and your macronutrients as your audio signal. Without the amplifier, the audio signal will not function at its full potential. Although macronutrients might guide the largest changes in weight, micronutrients should not be discounted for their role in weight control. If the body's systems aren't in balance, you will walk an uphill battle trying to reach your weight loss or weight gain goals.
Here are 5 signs your diet is lacking in micronutrients:
Sign 1: YOU NOTICE PHYSICAL SIGNS CHANGING (HAIR, NAILS, SKIN)
Thinning hair and brittle nails are often a sign of hypothyroidism. This can be the result of low iodine, selenium, zinc, copper, or chromium intake. Nails that produce ridges, are cracked, or are brittle, are often associated with low biotin, Vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids or calcium intake. Skin is one of our largest organs and a visible sign of micronutrient status. Rashes on the skin may be due to inadequate beta-carotene (Vitamin A), low B12 or B6.
Diets at risk of these deficiencies: vegan or diets containing less than 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
Sign 2: YOUR DIGESTION IS IRREGULAR
Absorption of the food we eat and how we digest that food is the gate keeper to absorption of vitamins and minerals. Without proper digestion, malabsorption of many of the vitamins and minerals within our diet will occur. Vitamin B12 is a main driver in pernicious anemia, which is associated with the autoimmune conditions, Grave's disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In these autoimmune conditions, the body has produced antibodies that attack the intrinsic factor made in the gut and prevent the body from absorbing B12. Another nutrient that can impact gut diversity is Beta-carotene or Vitamin A. Beta-carotene (Vitamin A) deficiency has been shown to have the largest impact on gut microbiome diversity (Hibberd, et. al, 2017). Vitamin A is essential for growth, vision, and immune function.
Diets at risk of these deficiencies: vegan, non-red meat eaters, low intake of orange vegetables
Sign 3: YOU STRUGGLE WITH MOOD SWINGS AND ANXIETY
Many B vitamins like B6, B9, and B12 play a large role in depression and anxiety. B vitamins are often known as the "anti-stress" vitamins (Lavalle, 2004). Magnesium deficiency is also associated with anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin has been linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and may affect mood during the winter months.
Diets at risk of these deficiencies: Non-meat and fish eaters, low intake of nuts, seeds, leafy greens
Sign 4: YOU GET SICK OFTEN
Not just what you eat, but also, your overall lifestyle (stress, exercise, hygiene) play a large role in immunity. Nutrients like Vitamin D, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids help defend your body against potential pathogens that can cause illness. Illnesses like URTI, bacterial vaginosis, and influenza have been linked to people with lower Vitamin D levels (Aranow, 2011). Zinc and omega 3's play a large role in both your innate and acquired immune responses through their role on monocytes, macrophages and in engulfing pathogens.
Diets at risk of these deficiencies: non-fish or algae eaters
There are many ways that you can determine if you are at risk for micronutrient deficiencies. Testing your micronutrient status can be done and is something we can order and analyze for you! Learn more here. We also analyze all clients' micronutrient status through dietary recalls that are obtained at the start of our time working together. Through these recalls we are able to find gaps in micronutrients and provide food and supplement recommendations to correct these potential deficiencies. It is important to note that not all micronutrient deficiencies can be corrected through diet and supplementation alone, and that the gut and genetic mutations like MTHFR must also be addressed in some patients.
Interested in learning more about testing or our nutrition programs, email us! firstname.lastname@example.org